From the brutal to the sludgy to the experimental to the symphonic, we raise our horns in welcome and warning to the coming week: we are here to ROCK.
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” With this opening line borrowed from another famous preamble, Alice Cooper declares 1987’s Raise Your Fist and Yell to be a distinctly political act. The rest of the album unfortunately fails to deliver on this promise—offering up instead a mixed-bag of the sort of 80’s slasher flick vignettes that frequented Constrictor and Dada before it with previews of the hairspray-and-skeeve approach that drenched the Trash to come. In retrospect, the album feels like little more than a placeholder between the massive world tours where Alice could really shine in the spotlight of increasingly complex live productions.
But perhaps, in 1987, just making a hard rock/metal album at all felt like a political act. The PMRC had seized national attention with their (literal in their minds?) witch hunt, and a new generation of traveling preachers were making their careers by telling ghost stories of their own concerning the boogeyman heavy metal. Against these would-be shining knights, Cooper’s dragon totem fires back—“I’ll never walk away from what I know is right.” He’s not just fighting to fight; he’s the one who’s fighting for what’s right. It’s these metal musicians who follow a genuine moral compass, one that moralizers will never know. True morality entails freedom, and true freedom includes the freedom to be different. 21st century sensibilities might scoff, but the over-the-top hard rock heroics of Kane Roberts and Kip Winger, the schlocky drum reverb—just being that particular thing, at that particular time, amplified the anthemic spirit of “Freedom.” And now, as then, a big metal show is just one of many venues in which people feel the need to raise their fist and yell. Let freedom ring.